The United States, including Pennsylvania, began to wrestle last week in earnest with the effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization labeled the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, because the outbreak had spread to every inhabited continent. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday.
Its hard not to be crushed by the weight of events relating to COVID-19.
The rising case numbers in Pennsylvania and the United States.
The rising death toll.
Less seriously, but still significantly, were also dealing with the loss of the unifying events that distract us from sadness in difficult times: college and professional sports, spring training baseball, Broadway shows, new movies.
With coronavirus cases spreading across the United States and the number of patients in Penn
There will be no March Madness brackets shared in workplaces this spring, because there will be no March Madness. And some workplaces will empty of employees, sent home to work remotely.
What we have is the madness of uncertainty.
Were uncertain of the true number of U.S. cases because the Trump administration failed to adequately prepare for this crisis by ensuring there would be an adequate number of test kits.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told PBS NewsHour that testing efforts in other countries far outpace those in the United States. We are not testing at a rate thats necessary to really understand the community spread of this virus, Adalja said.
Were washing our hands frequently. Were coughing into our elbows. Were greeting one another with waves instead of handshakes. Were watching carefully for the symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania and the United States, and as state Departme
But some of us, as LNP | LancasterOnline reported last week, are panic-buying toilet paper, paper towels and disinfecting wipes, stripping store shelves bare.
Some of us are missing time with loved ones who reside in nursing homes that have closed their doors to visitors.
It can be painful, but social distancing is essential, and must be practiced by young, healthy people, too, to protect older folks and those with underlying medical issues that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
So we hope everyone heeds Gov. Tom Wolf, who last week urged the statewide suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of 250 individuals or more, and cautioned against nonessential travel and visits to gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls.
Remember social distancing is a tremendous act of generosity and solidarity, Yale School of Medicine epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves tweeted Wednesday. Many of us will not get sick, but social distancing breaks the chain of infection between us and those at high risk of severe complications and death.
Its imperative that we break the chain.
In Lancaster County, where there is no public health department to help organize the response to this coronavirus, the county commissioners held a news conference Thursday.
The doctors present offered some excellent information. But otherwise the news conference accomplished little.
Joshua Parsons, chair of the county commissioners, said Lancaster County is prepared to issue a disaster declaration for COVID-19 if we have to.
Said Parsons: We certainly hope we dont have to do things as serious as that.
Success! An email has been sent with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
At the time, Lancaster County didnt have a COVID-19 case. But neither did Berks County when it declared an emergency last week.
In any kind of situation like this, time is of the essence, explained Ron Seaman, the Berks County chief administrative officer, according to the Reading Eagle. And acting sooner rather than later is always beneficial.
Such declarations enable county officials to mobilize resources in streamlined ways.
At the same hour the Lancaster County news conference was taking place, Gov. Wolf and state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine were offering updates about the worsening situation in Montgomery County, where most of the states COVID-19 cases are clustered.
Berks County adjoins Montgomery County. And Lancaster County adjoins Berks. Only one of these counties ours had not declared an emergency as of this sections press deadline Friday.
Wisely, the governor ordered all public schools to close for two weeks (and waived the 180-day requirement for schools). The closures may cause headaches for parents, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
Please take note, commissioners.
There may not be any known remedies for COVID-19, but there are remedies for our anxiety about it, and they include reaching out to others even if by phone to see if they need help.
We have great faith in Lancaster County residents. We are certain they will check on older folks in their neighborhoods to see if they need help running errands. We look forward to reading, in future letters to the editor, about the many acts of kindness that lightened these strange, dark days.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has a guide to help households prepare
Consider, too, this prescription, tweeted Thursday by the British actor Stephen Fry: OK. Until this thing is over weve all got to be helpful, friendly and kind to each other, understood? Hatchets buried. Grievances forgotten. Disputes resolved. Feuds ended. Strangers smiled at. When the final whistle is blown we can go back to be being mean and beastly. Agreed?
Agreed. Except for the beastly part. Were hoping this weird, worrying time reminds us of whats really important. And that meanness wont make the cut.
There are two tangible things we can do to help limit personal contact.
One, and this is major, we can complete the census by phone, mail or online, so census workers wont later need to visit our homes to ensure our participation.
The census the constitutionally mandated official count of every person living in the United States got underway Thursday.
Its vital that every Lancaster County resident be counted in the census. That count will determine the number of seats our state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. And it will determine how much federal funding Lancaster County receives for education, public infrastructure improvements, health and human services, and nonprofits that benefit the community.
If you drive on roads, if you have ever crossed a bridge in this county, if youre in an area thats covered by fire service, if you have ever been to a library, the census will affect you and the services that you receive, the Lancaster County Planning Commissions Emma Hamme told the LNP | LancasterOnline Editorial Board last Monday.
So, if you have internet access, complete your census form, after receiving your form in the mail, at my2020census.gov. Or call: 844-330-2020.
Heres how else we can help on the social distancing effort: by applying to vote by mail in the April 28 primary.
We have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, to apply for a mail-in ballot. Apply online at votespa.com/applymailballot.
Completed mail-in ballots must be received by the Lancaster County Board of Elections by 8 p.m. Election Day.
We can get through this together as long as keep a protective distance from one another.
Originally posted here:
As COVID-19 upends US life, we may need to stay safely apart but we're still in this together - LancasterOnline